US President Donald Trump (L) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) spoke by phone on Friday. File photos: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkey’s president is buckling down on his threats of a military operation against Kurds in northern Syria – a situation the United States is trying to defuse.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan talked with his American counterpart Donald Trump by phone on Friday. They agreed to better coordination in Syria, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.
Trump’s office has not immediately commented on the phone call in which Erdogan reiterated his problems with three Kurdish groups that Ankara conflates – the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the People’s Protection Units (YPG), and the Democratic Union Party (PYD).
The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump urged Erdogan to "call off" the threatened attack.
The US is stepping up its diplomatic efforts to talk Turkey out of launching an offensive against the Kurds, east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria. Commander of the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Gen. Mazloum Kobani told Reuters that US special representative James Jeffrey is engaged in talks
on the issue with Turkish officials.
Speaking at an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) event in Istanbul earlier in the day, Erdogan said his patience is wearing thin.
“Turkey has already lost a lot of time to intervene in the terror swamp east of the Euphrates. From now on, we cannot afford even a one-day delay,” he said.
He had previously said they are ready to begin
operations any day and conflict monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported that preparations on the ground are complete.
“We are determined to establish peace and security east of the Euphrates, just as we have done in Jarabulus and Afrin,” Erdogan declared.
Turkish forces and allied Syrian militias are in control of both of the Jarabulus and Afrin areas in northwestern Syria where recent reports indicate insecurity and crime are on the rise. Turkish soldiers have had to intervene to quell rivaling Syrian militias.
Erdogan said that a deadly attack on their soldiers on Thursday is proof of the need for an intervention.
Turkey’s armed forces reported that one soldier was killed
by the YPG in the Tal Rifat area.
The YPG said they conducted a “successful operation” against the Turks in Kimar village, west of Tal Rifat. They claimed to have killed five Turkish soldiers and destroyed an outpost.
The Syrian army also reportedly engaged with Turkish soldiers in the area.
Updated at 10:39 pm